For a bit of background, I work at an insurance company. I’m not exactly changing the world, but it pays well and it’s usually pretty chill. Except for yesterday, which I just really need to rant about. It was a bunch of little things that stacked up to my… almost explosion.
The water cooler was dripping nonstop. Citrix servers had gone down and that was the main program I use for work. I had a pounding headache from the bright lights in the office and my skin was all dried out from the artificial air. And for fuck’s sake, Barbara would just not leave me alone.
When I first saw I was getting a call from an unknown number, I thought it was another sales call. I only answered it on the off chance it was from my friend Irma, I knew she’d gotten a new phone number.
It was quiet except for someone breathing on the other end. I frowned but tried again. “Hello, is someone there? Or is this another robot telling me I’ve won a cruise?”
“This is what you have to do to become a man, Christian.” My dad practically shoved me out of his truck. I turned back to see him light up a cigarette for my cousin Dave in the backseat.
Dave looked at me and grinned crookedly. “Make sure to wrap your tool!” He teased before reaching forward and pulling the door shut, having to slam it twice to make sure it actually stayed closed.
Well, this was actually happening. I swallowed before I walked down the street, hearing my dad’s truck backfire twice before it drove off. I was now alone out here. Granted, I could use my phone and call an Uber, maybe even beat my dad home, but I had to do this. I was eighteen. I had to prove to the rest of my family that I was a real man.
I got the worst news of my life on my lunch break six months ago. I was feeling pretty good about myself, I’d received high praise from my boss and I felt like a promotion was coming my way any time. I turned my phone back on to see six missed calls from my wife and a voice message telling me that I needed to come to the hospital right now.
Cara had been home from work that day with a headache. Just a headache, she told me that morning, she would be fine after some rest and I shouldn’t worry about her.
Someone had broken into the house and beaten her within an inch of her life.
I would’ve rather stuck my head in a blender and turned that shit on puree than do this, but I didn’t have a choice. It was either go across the bridge or be called a pussy the rest of my life. Or at least until the end of the summer. When you’re eleven, there’s really not much of a difference.
The only way to end this endless teasing was to cross the troll bridge. Well, we called it the troll bridge. We weren’t sure what it was really called back then. It wasn’t anything special, just a small stone bridge that went over a creek just outside of town. It wasn’t used much anymore, it wasn’t big enough for a car to go over and there was talk of tearing it down, but it just never got done.
Out of the nine guys at Dillan’s bachelor party, I’m the only one left alive. And I don’t know how much more time I have.
Dillan was a friend from my highschool days. We weren’t close, but we hung out when all our other friends were busy. I was happy to hear he was getting hitched to his girl Heather, they were good for each other. When he asked me to join him and a few of the other guys for drinks, I happily accepted. One last crazy night before he said I Do.
We’d all gotten pretty buzzed when Mickey threw out this brilliant idea:
An unknown disease called the Venera Virus is spreading rapidly through the entire world that guarantees a painful death in the months that follow. People are desperate to find a cure for this mysterious and highly contagious disease but all the hospitals can do for now is help the pain of those infected.
Shiko Nakayama is eight years old and he’ll be turning nine in October. He loves to read books and watch nature shows.
And he is one of the children who’s contracted the Venera Virus.
It’s here! It’s done! The Children at The End of the World, I’ve been editing this all through spring and it’ll be officially released on March 22nd, put in your order here!
I think every straight guy in my school had a thing for Miss Bell.
I’m the last dude you want to come to when it comes to judging ‘female beauty’, but even I could admit she was pretty. Blonde hair usually drawn back in that messy bun style, a bod that would make Venus jealous, and a round face that was nearly always smiling or laughing.
She was our English II teacher, she’d just transferred in that year from California. During our first class, she told about going to college and how she used to surf on the weekends. My friend Sean elbowed me and whispered about how she’d look in a bikini. My practical ass said that she probably was wearing a wetsuit when she surfed. This got the back of my head punched and Sean whispering ‘Gaaaaaaaaaay’ into my ear. I mean, really not inaccurate, but the punch wasn’t necessary.
I suppose it started small, like all addictions do. I was in the first grade, having some corner time because I threw a crayon at Brandon’s head. He totally deserved it but that’s another story for another day.
Anyway, I was facing the brick wall, imagining horrible fates for this jerk of a classmate when I heard a quiet buzzing. I looked by my feet to see an old cobweb, spider long gone but the dusty threads still managing to capture a fly. It wiggling and squirmed and if I hadn’t interfered it probably would have gotten loose and carried on with its life. But before I realized it I had plucked the fly free and placed it in my mouth.